There were human passageways and there were dragon passageways throughout the library. Madame Lobellia never hesitated to use the latter; she had the wit and cleverness needed to go undetected there. But she didn’t trust herself with being in the open tonight. For one thing, Darcy was with her, and that girl couldn’t keep from squealing whenever she saw the dark shadow of a dragon fly overhead. Secondly, guards of D.A.R.K. were in the building, watching the entrance to the Humanities Hall. You wouldn’t see them, but they would be there, camouflaged into the ornate pillars that fanned out from either side of the large wooden doors. Lobellia couldn’t risk her intern’s life by entering the hall properly. That left them with the Human passages as their only option for travel.
The Human passages felt small to Lobellia, even when they were wide and lit with large, twinkling chandeliers. It was a side effect of spending most of her time in cavernous halls whose ceilings faded into black or blurry white. Any room whose ceiling could be reached by a ladder made her feel as though the world had shrunk and tightened around her, almost touching her skin. The sensation was unpleasant.
The human entrance into the Humanities hall was through a thin separation between a decorative cornice and the wall. It let you out in the Roman history section. There was a particular volume there, Pliny the Younger’s Epistulae, which, being at an angle, was perfectly suited for letting one’s self down onto the top shelf of the bookcase. Lobellia and Darcy slid down the book, Lobellia landing perfectly in her Victorian boots and Darcy fumbling onto her Oxford pumps.
They moved slowly to the edge of the shelf, crouching lower and lower. When Lobellia crawled onto her stomach and peered over the edge, Darcy followed her lead. With heads close together and staying as hidden as possible, the two women saw them.
D.A.R.K. dragons. Four of them. They crawled about the hall. Two were from Switch, Lobellia could tell by their long, slender snouts and silver-sheen scales. The other two seemed to be from Angoria, they spoke in prim accents and moved with the sureness of scholars.
“What are they looking for?” Darcy whispered, eyes wide.
“Us, I think,” Lobellia replied. They watched as the dragons moved books from one shelf to another and leafed through pages.
“If there’s one thing you can count on,” said one of the silver-sheen dragons in a think marsh-accent, “It’s that most of these so called ‘breaches’ are false alarms.” He slapped a book down then raised a claw toward a pile of books. “Those are clean.”
The second silver-sheen used his tale to swipe the ‘clean’ books out of the way to make room for another batch of suspicious volumes, then said in a rolling rasp, “You’re not getting bored, are you? Shouldn’t get board, that’s when you make mistakes.”
“I’m not bored, I’m skeptical.”
“Both conditions yield the same result—mistakes.”
The first silver-sheen’s scales bristled along his spine. Lobellia could see the tips of spikes threaten to emerge. Marsh dragons were easily angered. “Thinking for yourself isn’t a mistake. I’ve studied human behavior, they don’t travel through doors they can’t see,”
Darcy looked at Lobellia whose eyes were concentrated on the bristling dragon. “What is he talking about, Madame?” she whispered. Lobellia gave a near undetectable shake of the head. Unsatisfied, Darcy leaned farther over the ledge. “Is he talking about invisible doors in human history books?”
“Darcy,” Lobellia whispered, “move back, you’re too far in view.” But Darcy only craned her neck further out. “Darcy,” Lobellia scolded, worried the dragons below would see. But that worry dried up and another bled into her veins. The decorative cornice above them blinked and a copper tale appeared, drawing itself out of the stonework.